Lat­est Yaris shows re­mark­able re­fine­ment

South Waikato News - - MOTORING -

AS Toy­ota’s new Yaris III ar­rives in show­rooms, the mar­ket is very dif­fer­ent to the one that the first model en­tered in 1999.

That first car was known here as the Echo and at the time it had very lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion. There was no Nis­san in the B-seg­ment to com­pete with it, Honda only had the old Logo in that slot, while Ford of­fered the dull Kore­an­made Fes­tiva and Mazda’s square-rigged Demio was a bit of an also-ran too. Holden did have the Ba­rina but that too was very much a sec­ond- class cit­i­zen com­pared with the wildly-styled Echo, with its cen­tre- clocked dash, soft-wedge pro­file and clever fore and aft slid­ing rear seat. They sold like hot cakes.

The new model has a de­cid­edly an­gu­lar and ra­zor-edged look, with a dis­tinctly wedge-like pro­file and a new squared-off un­der grille, which will be part of Toy­ota’s new de­sign sig­na­ture for the fu­ture.

The car’s mak­ers make much of the new Yaris’ ex­tra space, a prod­uct of its 100mm longer body, which sits on a wheel­base that’s also 50mm longer than the pre­vi­ous car’s. Most of that wheel­base gain goes to rear knee room.

By us­ing a slim­mer front seat back de­sign, al­beit with a curved and em­i­nently sup­port­ive shape, the Yaris adds to that ex­tra leg room and I found that de­spite the 20mm lower roof height on the new de­sign, it af­fords a huge amount of head space.

All Yaris mod­els for New Zealand run on 15-inch rims in al­loy or steel. While some af­ter­mar­ket 16 and 17 inch wheels are avail­able, I was so im­pressed with the stan­dard car’s bal­ance of ride and han­dling, that I wouldn’t want to risk spoil­ing things just for the sake of looks.

There’s no doubt that the new Yaris III’S im­proved re­fine­ment lev­els make it feel like a much big­ger car than be­fore but that might have led me to ex­pect more from it in terms of urge. Suf­fice to say it feels brisk enough in most con­di­tions but its four-speed au­to­matic needs to be over-rid­den if you have an over­tak­ing op­por­tu­nity.

The YR five-door of­fers both man­ual $23,790 and au­to­matic $25,290 ver­sions, while the range-top­ping YRS is an au­to­matic-only five-door ask­ing $27,490 but adding cruise con­trol, mul­ti­in­for­ma­tion dis­play, im­proved au­dio fea­tures, al­loy wheels and front fog lights.

I liked the new car, es­pe­cially in terms of its ex­tra space, im­proved in­te­rior qual­ity and re­mark­able re­fine­ment lev­els. Dave Moore

DRIVE: The new Toy­ota Yaris lll.

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